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EGG-cellent Concept

Uptown Cafe Owner Rolls Out Educational Gift Grant Program

Writer / Julie Yates
Photography Provided

Jonathon Smith, owner of several area restaurants including Uptown Cafe on Conner Street, knows what it’s like to receive assistance. Local support he obtained as a result of the COVID pandemic motivated him to find a way to give back to the community. The resulting Education Gift Grant (EGG) program has developed into a winning situation for students, schools and the restaurant industry.

Uptown Cafe

“It all started around the pandemic,” Smith says. “We were carry-out only and I got a cool idea from my mom which we promoted on our website. Customers could buy a box lunch that was delivered to first responders. Over three months we delivered 500 lunches to major hospitals and the Noblesville police. Around the same time, we received a Noblesville Small Business Resilience Grant from Mayor Jensen. It enabled us to make payroll and stay afloat. It put us in a pay-it-forward mode.”

Smith thought about who he could help in the community besides first responders.

“Kids came to mind,” he says. “At the time I hadn’t reviewed the kids menu in a while and I thought about creating something around it. I didn’t want to just have a kids-eat-for-free scenario, because it might get adults into the restaurant but it doesn’t exactly help the community. That when I got the idea for the EGG program.”

Since the idea is to benefit youth, the kids menu became the focal point and foundation of the program. Proceeds from the sale of those items are donated directly to Noblesville High School. The school leaders choose recipients who use the grant money to further their education.

Uptown Cafe

“Noblesville already has a grant program, Noblesville Schools Education Foundation, in place within their system,” Smith says. “We let Noblesville High School and their culinary program choose who receives the money. By October 2021, we had given $2,500. We don’t pigeonhole the money. It can be used to purchase books or supplies in order to further the student’s education.”

While still in the process of learning how the EGG program will work, Smith is proud that it is a three-way, winning situation. He is hopeful that the money will not only go toward individual college scholarships, but also to secondary-school culinary programs and eventually result in more workers being trained for employment in the restaurant industry. Smith hopes the EGG program can be developed at other Uptown Cafe locations and benefit those communities as well.

“The generosity of this community spurred this idea on,” he says. “We wanted to pay it forward and continue what was done for us by the City of Noblesville. It’s a good way for us to connect with community and touch the families within it, while helping the culinary industry.”

Uptown Cafe is located at 809 Conner Street in Noblesville. Give them a call at 317-214-7553. For more info and to donate to the EGG program, visit uptowncafes.com.

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